One of my favorite episodes of Keeping Up Appearances airs on Thursday, October 29. It’s The Boyfriend episode, where Hyacinth, played by Patricia Routledge, invites her neighbor Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s brother Emmet ‘round for coffee in the hopes that Emmet will ask her to be in his musical. The way Hyacinth keeps bursting into song is memorable.
It must have been a lot of fun for Routledge to tape that particular episode, given that in 1968 she won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in the show Darling of the Day. It was her first Broadway musical and starring opposite her was Vincent Price. It was Mr. Price’s one and only musical performance on Broadway. In the show, Routledge played a well-off Cockney widow married to a well off painter who poses as his deceased butler.
In 1988, Routledge also won an Olivier award – the British equivalent of a Tony - for Best Actress in a Musical for Candide. Routledge also performed alongside Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt in The Pirates of Penzance at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park in 1980. Routledge’s career spans more than 70 years and she continues to perform. Most recently she celebrated he legacy of Noel Coward with an online rendition of Coward’s song “I’ve Been To A Marvelous Party.”
Joining Routledge in the almost hour long fundraiser was a host of familiar British performers. Dame Judi Dench, Sir Derek Jacobi, Dame Emma Thompson to name just a few. The fundraiser was in aid of the combined charitable organizations Acting For Others in the UK and the Actors Fund in the US. Both organizations offer financial aid to to unemployed performing artists in all disciplines. The fundraiser was taped for online viewing and you can see Routledge’s performance here at around the 46-minute mark.